August 31, 2020
Dear UNL Faculty and Staff:
This week, additional steps were taken to address our $38.2 million budget shortfall in state-aided funding in the next three fiscal years.
As I mentioned in a June communication to campus and discussed in our fall campus-wide town halls with faculty and staff in July, the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to date on our institution is substantial. While we are doing better financially than many other institutions, addressing this shortfall is requiring us to make tough choices and to take very difficult immediate and proactive financial adjustments.
All of this work is being done in full partnership with the Academic Planning Committee (APC), according to the Procedures to be Invoked for Significant Budget Reallocations and Reductions. In July, I invoked the shared governance process with the APC to review the budget cuts and determine a path to address our financial shortfall. Our campus leadership presented the APC with the detailed budget proposals and has met with them several times to discuss them. Those proposals were based on several months of work within each campus unit to provide recommendations for budget reductions. Last week, the APC approved the budget framework and a breakout of two phases of budget reduction proposals.
This week, we have taken actions to enact $16.38 million in Phase 1 budget reductions into place. These include:
- The elimination of 42 vacant positions with the Executive Vice Chancellor, the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Office of Research and Economic Development, Student Affairs and Business and Finance divisions
- The elimination of 18 currently filled positions in the Office of the Chancellor and Business and Finance.
- The shifting of 25 filled positions to non-state aided funding in the Office of the Chancellor, IANR, and Student Affairs
- $1.8 million of reductions in general salary pools
- $6.9 million in cuts to operating expenses and other cost-savings across the university.
Decisions involving the elimination of roles are always the most difficult, given the impact on our people and our community. Unfortunately, in this situation, these reductions were an unavoidable part of managing the budget reductions.
These reductions follow recent announcements from Husker Athletics and the Lied Center for Performing Arts on furloughs and cost reduction measures taken as a result of reduced revenues. They are also done on top of the elimination of annual general salary increases at UNL for FY2021.
Later this week, in coordination with the APC, we will announce the proposed Phase 2 reductions, totaling $22.5 million. The APC will conduct several hearings on these reductions in September and October before making final recommendations to me in early November, with a public announcement of the recommendations later that month. The Chancellor’s website has additional information on this process and APC budget documents. We understand the need to be transparent as we move through this process, so that our community has the best possible understanding for the rationale and need for these budget reductions.
While this is a challenging time, I am so thankful for the leadership being exhibited by our university community in ensuring the success of UNL in delivering on our mission.
Ronnie D. Green, Ph.D.